The Genius (And Risk) Of Pokemon Go: Will Search For Snorlax

In case studies, Mobile, Mobile App, Uncategorized on July 9, 2016 at 4:00 pm

If you’ve left your house in the past three days (or even if you just went to the office), you’ve probably seen a twenty-something staring down at their phone intently. wandering around flinging Pokeballs.

Released to the Apple Store and Google Play on July 6, Pokemon Go already has 27,328 customer ratings, over 50,000 downloads in it’s first 24 hours, trending topics on Facebook and Twitter, loyal fans and dedicated haters.  The mobile app presented Nintendo, Pokemon and Niantic layers real life locations with poke spots, utilizes a phone’s camera feature to make Pokemon appear in the user’s location and surroundings and generally causes addictive behavior.

For those wondering, I’ve been able to catch 24 different species and more than 50 Pokemon in my downtime the last few days despite the dreaded “Servers Down” screen that many have been experiencing.

Just like when us 20-somethings were in the 4th Grade and our teacher banned Pokemon Cards from the playground because we couldn’t look away, Pokemon Go has taken over the playground of adulthood. Much more than it’s creators anticipated as the game crashes every 20 minutes or so due to overloaded servers. Users have to sign in over and over, which for me is particularly tedious because i’m the fool with two step authentication on most of my accounts.

This issue with the game though, did not put it in the category of DIGG malfunctions, instead, the opposite. When users log in to the same successfully, the world around them fades, focusing soley on the game and feeling lucky that they are in.



Here’s a look at the Genius (And Risk) of Pokemon Go:



  1. A GENERATION NOT FORGOTTEN: Gloom, Pidgey, Dratini. These words not only illicit childhood memories, but in my circle of friends spark back intense knowledge of species, battles, HP & more. I can’t remember a game this ubiquitous since maybe “Words With Friends.” Since it’s launch three days ago, it’s been quickly adopted and heavily used. I was at a concert in Miami last night, talking to strangers about the Polliwags they were able to grab by the concession stand. Everyone at the show who wasn’t snapping photos of the Miami Skyline had the familial green and blue Pokemon landscape on their screen. Dozens of folks set up lures (which attract virtual Pokemon) and actually, I’ve talked to more random strangers with a happy instant connection than ever before. High Fives all around when we spotted that Slow Poke.
  2. GET UP AND MOVE: To hatch an egg into a Pokemon you have to have the game open on your phone and walk (or bike) between 2 and 10 kilometers. For everyone who says video games promote laziness, this one has made me walk in circles around my apartment complex in search of nighttime Clefairies. The game literally forces you to walk to catch, so it’s a decent option for a lunchtime break or morning stroll companion. Overheard at the concert between complete strangers: “Yo bro, a Snorlax has been spotted in the Arts District, do you guys want to go?”
  3. REAL LIFE LOCATIONS: This one is both a genius idea and a risk. The Christopher Columbus Statue at Bayside Park is a Pokestop. You can go there, spin an image when you are close enough and collect eggs, Pokeballs and more. Reminiscent of Geocashing, it’s really fun to go out and explore live locations, run into other people playing the game there. It’s layered with what appears to be Google Maps Data and cellphone usage, so popular areas are crawling with species encourage exploration, travel and companionship to catch the rarest species.



  1. REAL LIFE LOCATIONS: Yeah, this one’s both. There’s a ton of risk in making a local Church or landmark a pokespot. Namely, the location didn’t agree to that. Some places may love the attention and traffic and others not so much. Secondly, there’s inherent risk in people wandering around places they don’t know, staring at their phone sneaking Snorlax.
  2. PERSONAL BOUNDARIES: The game warns you to “be alert” of your surroundings at all times, BUT I’ve seen people walk across the street hunting pokemon. It’s not a stretch to say people are likely driving, not paying attention to the world, walking into lakes looking for Horseas and worse while fixated on this game. Of course, it’s up to the user to be smart, but it certainly encourages a world that’s purely digital and non responsive to reality.


Now bring on that Clefairy.

My First On-Demand Geofilter

In Mobile, On the look out, Snapchat on March 5, 2016 at 3:40 pm

The hardest part about launching an On-Demand Snap Geofilter is the graphic design. I only spent about three seconds on mine, but if you can google map your way to a destination, you can launch your own filter.

It took me all of 10 minutes to mock up a super quick design in photoshop using the provided template, geo-fence an area, choose a time frame and go live!

It was just a few weeks ago that Snapchat announced their new On-Demand Snap Filters.

The process is designed to get your custom filter up and live as quickly as a Facebook campaign. You just need your snapchat log in and a credit card. Follow the posted guidelines, and your cost is based on how big of an area you want your filter to cover and how long you want it to stay up.

This was a GENIUS move from Snapchat. During the Super Bowl, it was heavily publicized that sponsored filters could set you back huge $$$. The International Business times reported upwards of $750,000.  Obviously this closes many small businesses, local festivals, etc. out of the race. Of course you can launch your own community filter, or enter a licensing agreement with snapchat for a more permanent filter for your location or business. But this quick-launch style feature allows Snapchat to rake in easy cash and will forever change weddings, huge birthday parties and small businesses snapchat strategies.

Their advertisement positions the on-demand filters as a great birthday gift:


  • Plan ahead to ensure your filter goes live when you want it to. I received this confirmation email only a few hours after purchasing. It was scheduled to go live at 9, but I didn’t notice it until around 9:15, so give yourself a cushion from when you really need it.
    Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 10.35.58 AM
  • Focus on your design. As you can see, mine was tossed together quickly just as a test, but spend the time creating the image you want. Be mindful of not including photos, and avoiding any copyright mess ups.


  • Don’t cover too much of the screen with your design. Think about what the font of any text will look like on a background and think about the user experience of discovering your filter.

ALSO, my filter is only live in my garden for today, but it only cost $5 for 9-5 p.m. just in a small area. Give it a try and build your own filter today.

One Week with Kik: A look at the Fast-Growing Messaging App

In Community Management, engagement, Messaging, Mobile App, Social media on August 30, 2015 at 8:27 pm

An article in the Silicon Valley Business Journal last week cited Facebook as still the No. 1 used Social Media, but with stagnant growth. The same article mentioned the expedited adoption of the start-up messaging app, Kik. Being mentioned in conjunction with the some of the most downloaded and used social apps is enough to force you pay attention to Kik, but if you need more, consider it’s 240 million users between the age of 13-24 and the 9 million of those users who have voluntarily opted in to chat with brands.

What’s Kik? : At first download, it doesn’t look that different from other messaging apps such as Viber or Facebook Messenger. But after I started “chatting” a bit it started to remind me of AOL messenger and chatting with automated bots in the fifth grade. It’s organization structure is set up in such a way that you can chat with:

  1. Your Friends: Like when you create a new account on any mobile app, Kik scans your phone and finds friends on Kik. As I am just out of that 18-24 range, I only had one friend who seemed to be already active on the app. Like Viber, friends seem to use Kik to text internationally and my friend who was on it said: “The notification noise is super satisfying.” (Hey, it never hurts to have a nice interface and few homey add ons).
  2. Topical Groups: Since I had no friends to chat with, but still wanted to get a clearer picture of how the app is being used, I did some searching for who else I could chat with. It seems in clumps of up to 50 or more, you can chat with complete strangers or anyone who is interested in a certain topic. I posted in the “Hobbits” group to see what would happen. There was immediate response from other users but I wouldn’t qualify the conversations as very valuable. Like the chatrooms of the early 90’s, most of the responses were unrelated and all over the place.
  3. Brands (Partners): Perhaps the reason that Kik is appealing is it’s brand value proposition. If the app is already being heavily utilized to chat with friends, why not open up the opportunity to brands as well? KIk’s website claims that 190 million messages have been exchanged with promoted chat accounts. In a way, this is a step up from a Twitter or Facebook exchange with a brand as it feels more personal and your question isn’t out there for the world to see. BUT it doesn’t seem like there are any actual humans on the other side of the conversation. Some of the biggest brands utilizing the app include MTV, Buzzfeed, WWF & Reddit. Their branded micro sites within the Kik app seem pretty cool. Just another place to share their content and as always, meeting users and potential customers where they already are. I started to have some conversations with these brands and wasn’t exactly thrilled with what I found.

Some Branded Conversations:

It certainly felt like chatting with a bot on AOL all of those years ago. Or maybe Siri, who is programmed to say what you want to hear. The best conversation I had was with WWF, who utilized the computer back and forth to ask trivia questions and further their cause: (and link to their landing page)

Convo with WWF on KIk

Convo with WWF on KIk

Chatting with Buzzfeed was fun too. For someone who already loves Buzzfeed’s content and can often spend a significant amount of time scrolling through the site before deciding what to read, Kik can serve as a content guide, suggesting articles and making it a more interactive reading experience.

The conversation with MTV, though seemed very one-sided. When I began chatting with them, it was clear the goal for them was to promote the VMA’s. They had an awesome micro-hub set up on Kik with all of the VMA content, which again I think highlights the potential for Kik as a distribution platform. But not so much for a conversation:

Chat with MTV on Kik

Chat with MTV on Kik

The conversation couldn’t answer the most logical question someone chatting might have: When are the VMA’s?

Let’s talk about that $50 million in funding: Whether your conversation with a brand was rewarding or not, people are using Kik. Tech Crunch reported last week that the app had raised $50 million from the biggest internet company in China with the goal of becoming the “WeChat of the West. Read more on that here.  

So, should I as a brand care about Kik? 

Looking at the evaluation and adoption rate of the app as well as the number of competitors, messaging apps don’t seem to be going anywhere. Along with more Video Sharing platforms, they might just be the two fastest growing areas in Social Media in 2016. On one hand the personal chance to chat with a customer is immensely valuable, but as with the MTV example, the system may need ironed out. (Unless you are using strictly as distribution). And like any social network, it’s only as valuable as the network itself, if it continues to grow and if your target market is using it.

Any avid Kik users out there? Is it how you chat with Friends in far away lands or would you like to have the chance to click to buy and converse with brands?